Illahee Update 2/6/12 Port Commissioner Vacancy, King5 Coverage, Update Criticisms & Response, Wed Port Meeting, ICC Request to Port, Illahee Name?

Port Commissioner Vacancy. Just received a request to post this announcement for an upcoming commissioner vacancy with the Port of Illahee.  Dennis Sheeran will evidently be vacating his commissioner position soon, as we heard he will be retiring from Group Health and moving to Colorado in April.  These positions are non-pay and non-partisan, but they do receive a stipend for meetings.  The attached announcement is evidently also going out in the Kitsap Sun.

The Port of Illahee is accepting applications for the position of Commissioner representing Commissioner District 2.  Commissioner District 2 is the North end of the Illahee Port Distict, the North boundary is Colorado Street, the South boundary is McWilliams Rd East to Port Orchard bay.  The West boundary Rita Street South to McWilliams Rd, The East boundary is Port Orchard bay.

The applicant must live within the above described boundaries.

Please provide a brief resume, your address and phone number.  Send the information to:

Port of Illahee

P.O. Box 2357

Bremerton, WA 98310

King5 Coverage of Brush Picking. There were a number of you who told us you saw the coverage of the recent brush picking in the Preserve on TV on Friday and Saturday.  We received a call Friday morning that their environmental reporter, Gary Chitten, wanted to do a story and they were on their way.  They wanted to see where we encountered the brush pickers and walked some of the trails around the area.  We took of picture of their filming, which is below, and we have been asked if we could link the story.  We aren’t sure if we will be able since it hasn’t yet appeared on their website.  If and when it does we will do so.

Update Criticism. We send out our Updates to whoever wants them and the other day we received the following critical email:

As good as your intentions are I believe you and the Illahee community must understand that the Illahee Park is a public one.  I would also take note that your group is becoming almost radical.  You have this imagination that Illahee creek is salmon bearing when in fact it is not.  Your group spread nonsense that Rolling Hills Golf course was polluted which it is not.

Then you rail against brush pickers when in fact brush picking keeps the forests salal, sword fern and evergreen huckleberry healthy as does the taking of new growth from cedar trees.  Forests become fire hazards when old growth dies and produces limited new growth.  Maybe when that happens you will recognize the importance of managing the forest rather than ignoring them.

Not only that but the greens industry is multimillion dollar national business in this state and your group apparently does not realize those simple facts.

Do We Respond? I don’t ever remember getting an email criticism like this one, though we do get a few strange responses to our website, which are mostly spam.  We thought about not responding but the person copied those public officials and reporters on the update list so we did respond as follows:

First of all, it is a Preserve rather than a typical park, with some of it designated as an Active Use area and most of it as a Wildlife Preserve area, not open to the public.  If it was a park we might look at things differently.

I don’t know where you get the idea that either the Stewardship Group or the Illahee Forest Preserve (501.c.3) group is becoming “almost radical,” unless you are willing to call one of our partners, the Rotary Club of East Bremerton, radical.  You should know better than to label people or groups you don’t know about.

And I don’t know where you get the idea that any of us are calling Rolling Hills polluted?  That is utterly non-sense!  Who are you talking to or with?  We were happy to get Rolling Hills because it provides a logical place to try and control the stormwater surges coming from the developments to the north that were put in when there was no requirement to detain stormwater.  Those stormwater surges have filled Illahee Creek with sediment, filled the culvert such that it expected to fail in a major storm, and fills Puget Sound with chocolate brown water during any rainfall around one inch.  The need to utilize the golf course for retention are not just our thoughts, but also those of the various engineers, geologists, and hydrologists who have studied the problem.

And as far as your comments about Illahee Creek not being a salmon stream, I need to disagree with you.  I will admit that it is definitely in decline the past few years, but not that many years ago we had chum salmon coming back, as a result of salmon rearing pens at the dock, and I personally saw spawning coho, about 10 pounds, in the creek.  One of our neighbors, Merideth Jones, talked about watching steelhead follow the salmon upstream and eat the eggs after they spawned.  When the county did some work around the culvert a few years ago they were required to have a net upstream and carry the small fry downstream past their work.  We were all amazed at the number of small fingerlings that showed up in the nets each day.  Also, when we did research for the Illahee Community Plan we talked with some of the really old timers, like Ed Fisher who grew up in the homestead just west of Illahee State Park.  He talked about how his mother would have the boys go down to Illahee Creek every fall to bring back salmon.  And there was another report about people coming back with wagon loads of salmon from the creek in the very early days of Illahee.  We also heard about reports of no fish in the stream such as your statement.  But we also have reports from fisheries biologists who have identified fish in the stream, such as cutthroat, steelhead, chum, and coho.  So who do I believe?  First of all my own eyes, and then the various biologists who have visited the stream.  I also believe you when you say you saw no salmon in the stream, since some of the people we talked with reported the same thing.  There must have been some period when no fish were observed.  And I can tell you that this past year, since we stopped doing our monthly fecal coliform testing up and down the stream, that for the first time I have personally not seen a salmonid in Illahee Creek.  However, during benthic sampling of the stream we did find freshwater sculpins.

As for your comments about harvesting forest products, we aren’t against the practice.  We agree that it is a great renewable resource and an important industry.  The group simply voted to not allow it in the Preserve for a variety of reasons, too numerous to mention tonight.

I would also like to comment on your statement regarding fire hazards.  I don’t know if you know the name Steve Arno?  He is considered one of the leading experts on forest fires, who happened to grow up in this area.  We have had him walk through the various parts of the Preserve with us to advise us on what needs to be done in the Preserve so it doesn’t all burn up some day.  He is a forest ecologist, PhD, who worked out of Missoula, Montana in the Forest Service’s Fire Laboratory and has written a number of books on forest fires, the one I remember is Flames in Our Forests; Disaster or Renewal.  So your blatant insinuation that we don’t know what we are doing regarding forest management is simply wrong.

Wed Port Meeting. The Port of Illahee meets the second Wednesday of the month at 5 pm at the Port meeting room at 5560 Ocean View Blvd, so they will be meeting this Wednesday (2/8/12).  There have been inquires as to whether the Port is going to help with the Timbers Edge auction situation on February 24, 2012 and whether it would be helpful for residents to attend the meeting.  We have not heard anything from the Port about this so we don’t know, nor have we heard anything from anyone else.  It seems like if the community wants anything to happen they need to tell the Port Commissioners.  The Illahee Community Club (Council, Group, Nonprofit – whatever their name is going to be) board requested Port involvement, so we presume they have this on their agenda for Wednesday.

The ICC Request. We have been asked to restate what the ICC request to the Port of Illahee is:

The ICC Board of Directors requests Port of Illahee secure the remaining 15 acres of Timbers Edge properties at the February 24, 2012 auction to ensure protection of aquifers and Illahee Creek.  The desired outcome would be the eventual sale and development of the east 5 acre portion of the Avery Homestead at the current zoning (Illahee Greenbelt Zone (IGZ)) and with the stipulation that Low Impact Develpment (LID) applications be used to infiltrate stormwater, and, if possible, securing the west 5 acre wooded parcel of the Avery Homestead for the Illahee Preserve, along with the roughly 3 acre parcel of the Garrison property for the Illahee Preserve, and the roughly 2 acre parcel of the west Talmo parcel for the Illahee Preserve.  The proposed method for these acquisitions would be to obtain a “bridge loan” from the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) for a period of three to four years.  The bridge loan could be secured using the recently acquired Ocean View properties for collateral.  The possibility of obtaining the Illahee Store could remain on hold for a little longer until these other issues are resolved.  We presume the Ocean View properties which house the Port office and meeting room are no longer necessary with the purchase of the Deitch property which we understand will eventually house the Port office and meeting room in the lower floors of the building.  Because time is of the essence with the upcoming scheduled auction of the properties, we request this request be given urgent review and attention.

Illahee Community Group Name? There have been several more name suggestions that have come through.  The first was a comment from an attendee of the ICC meeting on January 31 who heard several members pushing for the name of the group to be the Illahee Community Council:

Just some thoughts about the group’s name after last night’s meeting: 

The County has a number of advisory councils – Kingston, Hansville, Suquamish, Manchester and Central Kitsap. All of these groups have been formally affiliated with the County to provide certain advice (pretty much spelled out in their by-laws) to the County Commissioners. If Illahee wants to be a council, the group might want to explore a formal affiliation with the County. Otherwise, there might be some unintended confusion about what the group is about. The different councils are not uniform in how they are set up. In some, members are appointed by the Kitsap BOCC, in others, you just sign up. I don’t think that any of them have have any separate funding, like a club or a non-profit. You can check out more information on the DCD web site (

It sounds to me as if the Illahee group is more like a club. Anyone from the area can become a member, the club charges dues and undertakes projects to improve the area. It is more active and has gotten involved in land use issues to a greater extent than the one to which I belong (the Seabeck Community Club), but, otherwise, they seem pretty similar.

IPRN? The second name suggestion was for the group to be called the Illahee Preservation & Restoration Nonprofit (IPRN).  Illahee describes the community.  Preservation & Restoration describes the purposes of the organization (and the way it was incorporated with the IRS), and Nonprofit describes what kind of organization it is.   Not as catchy as ICC, but descriptive.

Jim Aho